Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Saturday, March 25, 2023

25: Russia

The view from Moscow and Beijing: What peace in Ukraine and a post-conflict world look like to Xi and Putin The main topics of discussion were fittingly grandiose: How should hostilities in Ukraine end? And after the war is over, how should the international security system be reshaped? ........ U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the world not to be “fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China … to freeze the war on its own terms.” ........ Putin launched a brutal, unprovoked war in Ukraine. .......... Amid the heightened emotional environment of missile attacks on civilians, horrific atrocities against ordinary citizens and deportation of children from Ukraine, even a cool evaluation of ways to end the fighting, declare a cease-fire, and begin talks by the belligerents has led to accusations of appeasement. And the peace plan put forward by China on Feb. 24, 2023, and discussed with Putin during a March 20-22 meeting in Moscow has been criticized as overly vague and lacking concrete suggestions. .......... But as a historian, I ask, what does the world look like from the other side? How has the run-up to the war and the war itself been understood by Russia and China? And what do Xi and Putin envision a post-conflict world to look like? .......... The rulers of both Russia and China see the West-dominated “rules-based international order” – a system that has dominated geopolitics since the end of the Second World War – as designed to uphold the global hegemony of the United States. .......... The two men’s stated preference is for a multilateral system, one which would most probably result in a number of regional hegemons. ......... “The international community has recognized that no country is superior to others, no model of governance is universal, and no single country should dictate the international order. The common interest of all humankind is in a world that is united and peaceful, rather than divided and volatile.” ......... Reflecting his more street tough style, Putin was more blunt. Russia and China “have consistently advocated the shaping of a more just multipolar world order based on international law rather than certain ‘rules’ serving the needs of the ‘golden billion,’” he said, referencing a theory that holds that the billion people in the richest countries of the world consume the greatest portion of the world’s resources. ......... Putin said the “crisis in Ukraine” was an example of the West trying to “retain its international dominance and preserve the unipolar world order” while splitting “the common Eurasian space into a network of ‘exclusive clubs’ and military blocs that would serve to contain our countries’ development and harm their interests.” .........

Beijing appears intent to play the role of negotiator-in-chief in this transition to a multipolar world order.

......... the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and the alliance’s promise to expand further by admitting Georgia and Ukraine. In Putin’s view, such NATO encroachment is an existential threat to Russia’s security interests. ........ But the Chinese plan also rejects Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling: “The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed.” .......... the Chinese strongly insist on the need for an immediate cease-fire and the start of negotiations ........... In the short run, China may be benefiting from the war because it consumes attention and armaments from the West and diverts its gaze from East Asia. The U.S. “pivot to the east” – a planned refocusing from the Obama administration onward aimed at countering the perceived threat of China – has stalled. ........... Xi is most concerned with China’s renewal of economic development, which would rely on less confrontational relations with Europe and the United States. Stability, both domestically and internationally, works to China’s economic advantage as a major producer and exporter of industrial goods. And Beijing is mindful that a slump in foreign demand and investment is hitting the country’s economic prospects. ...........

Xi may be the only person on the globe able to persuade Putin to think seriously about a way out of war.

......... The United States’ long-held foreign policy aim of maintaining its “indispensable nation” status runs counter to Russia and China’s ambition to end American global dominance. ........ two, seemingly insurmountable, rival ambitions.

India’s ruling party just kicked a major rival out of Parliament — and sparked a new crisis Rahul Gandhi’s expulsion from the Lok Sabha is the latest sign of Indian democracy’s decline. ........ For years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attacked the foundations of his country’s democracy. His government has rewritten election rules in its favor, assailed the rights of the Muslim minority, jailed anti-government protesters, and reined in the free press. On Friday morning, it took another major step in an authoritarian direction: kicking Modi’s principal rival, Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, out of office and disqualifying him from competing in future elections. ........ Modi is extremely popular, and Gandhi is not known as an especially adept politician. ........ “Authorities have used security, defamation, sedition, and hate speech laws, as well as contempt-of-court charges, to quiet critical voices in the media,” Freedom House finds. “Activists, Muslims, and members of other marginalized communities are routinely charged with sedition for criticizing the government and its policies.” ........ the motion was filed by a Modi ally only a week after Gandhi launched a major attack against the prime minister’s ties to disgraced businessman Gautam Adani. ....... the case has serious legal flaws. In criminal allegations that a group is being defamed — like people named Modi — it needs to be shown that the group constitutes a distinct entity with collective interests and a group reputation that could be besmirched. ......... it is entirely possible that Gandhi’s conviction is overturned on appeal. ......... Gandhi’s conviction and removal from Parliament illustrate, more than anything else, the continuing deterioration of India’s democracy and Modi’s and his allies’ authoritarian bent. ........ India no longer met its minimal standards for qualifying as a democracy of any kind, downgrading it to an “electoral autocracy.” ....... attacking the leading figure in the opposition is unusually brazen ........ Like similar modern autocrats in places like Hungary and Israel, he still depends on support from a public that believes in the basic ideals of representative government. ........ “Rahul Gandhi can still command media and popular attention when he is not a member of Parliament” ......... the BJP’s increasingly tight control over the Indian political system and mass media. ....... “Even after his yatra, pundits said Bharat Jodo Yatra would be step 1 of a larger rehabilitation plan only if it was followed by additional steps to sharpen the opposition’s ideological positioning and build the Congress organization. We have not seen much headway on either of those fronts.” ...... Modi is a capable and canny authoritarian, and putting a real dent in his political armor will be a difficult challenge for India’s weakened opposition. .

The Ukraine conflict is a war of narratives – and Putin’s is crumbling It is as if both Russia and Ukraine are attempting to write the history – the whys and hows of the conflict – in real time. ........ Russian politicians and their media claim Russia is fighting Nazis in Ukraine who usurped power in a 2014 coup d’état and pushed the country toward an alliance with the West, posing a direct threat to Russia itself. ............. Russian boys are dying to protect their Ukrainian brethren, Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians from fascism ....... Ukrainians decided in the “revolution of dignity” in 2014 that they wanted to free themselves from Vladimir Putin’s suffocating pressure to give up their aspirations to join the West, fortify their democracy and be a fully sovereign, independent state. Inspired by that narrative – and the unprovoked invasion of their country by their powerful neighbor – Ukrainians have courageously and effectively resisted the Russian assault, and even triumphed significantly on the battlefield. ......... Ukraine was never a serious, immediate threat to Russia. ....... a preventive war. It is premised on anxieties about future dangers, yet clothed not in cold realist terms but rather in the hyperemotional narrative of the supposedly harmonious brotherhood of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. .......... Putin’s narrative is similarly existential. It is framed as a struggle against the “neo-colonialism” of the West, which he believes seeks to dismember Russia. In Putin’s narrative, the war with Ukraine challenges America’s claim to a global hegemony that reduces Russia to a humiliated regional power. ........ The lands he referred to as “New Russia,” or “Novrossiya,” were sanctified, he said, by victories of Russian heroes from the 18th century; this was a land where Catherine the Great founded cities.......... He then pivoted to the painful year 1991, when three representatives of the Communist party elite terminated the Soviet Union “without asking ordinary citizens what they wanted, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their homeland.” Putin compared this illegitimate act with what Lenin and the Bolsheviks had done in creating Soviet republics on the basis of their nationality. In Putin’s narrative, the invasion of Ukraine is part of a process to rectify what he now sees as criminal acts at the dawn and twilight of the Soviet empire. He explicitly rejected the notion of restoring the USSR – “Russia no longer needs it today; this is not our ambition” – but believes he should aid those torn from their historic homeland. ............ In Putin’s narrative, Ukraine needs saving from the clutches of the West and Western culture and must return to the Russkii mir – the Russian world – and its unique culture. ........ Putin declared that in Russia there will not be “parent number one, parent number two and parent number three” instead of a “mother and father.” ......... “Do we want our schools to impose on our children … perversions that lead to degradation and extinction? Do we want to drum into their heads the ideas that certain other genders exist along with women and men and to offer them gender reassignment surgery? … This is all unacceptable to us. We have a different future of our own.” ............ broadening the imagined threat from the West to include culture as well as Russia’s survival and status as a great power .......... Domestic resistance to the war has erupted sporadically in large Russian cities, in non-Russian regions like Dagestan and even in Russian-occupied Crimea. Young men are fleeing to Finland, Georgia, Armenia and Central Asia to avoid the call-up issued by the military. Few want to fight and die for a war that makes no sense.

Poland dreams of building Europe’s largest army, against backdrop of Russia’s war against Ukraine

Friday, March 24, 2023

Ryan Hass, Xi Jinping, China, Russia

Interests, Not Ideology, Should Drive America’s Approach to China Ideologues prefer to understand the U.S.-China relationship as a contest between good versus evil. They take comfort in clean divisions between democracies versus autocracies. They like parallels between the current U.S.-China great power contest and the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War. The United States triumphed over the Soviets in the Cold War, after all, so why not repeat the cycle again now with China, they ask. .......... invoking Cold War analogies misdiagnoses the nature of the U.S.-China relationship and creates a false hope that the United States has the capacity to compel the collapse of China. ........ Any American attempt to treat China as its existential enemy (a la the Soviet Union during the Cold War) would isolate the United States from its friends and allies, none of whom have any enthusiasm for joining an anti-China containment coalition. ....... Not even America’s closest partners in Europe or Asia would sign up for a role in erecting such a global economic partition. ......... Trade data does not support arguments that China is seeking to bifurcate the global economy, though.

Over 150 countries view China as their largest trading partner, making China the world’s largest trading power.

Even as Beijing pursues more statist economic policies at home, it continues to look for opportunities to gain leverage by locking in other countries’ dependence upon China for future economic growth. ......... a recognition that the bilateral relationship is deeply competitive. ......... Both countries also are battling each other to dominate the frontiers of innovation in technological fields that will define the coming century, such as quantum computing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and clean energy. ............. bilateral trade in goods hit a record in 2022, nearing $700 billion ........ by virtue of their positions as the world’s two most powerful countries, the United States and China also face planetary interdependence. From climate change to the global economy and pandemics, they both are harmed or helped by their (in)ability to pool capabilities to confront shared threats.......... The sooner leaders in Washington and Beijing embrace the framework of competitive interdependence for understanding the nature of U.S.-China relations, the better they will be able to compete without resort to conflict. The framework pushes both sides to coexist within a heightened state of competition, not out of amity but rather a sober recognition of the parameters within which the relationship operates. The hard truth is that neither the United States nor China would be able to achieve their national ambitions if they end up in conflict with each other. ........... the goal of strategy is to minimize risks and maximize benefits. The current trajectory of U.S.-China relations is moving in the opposite direction. Risks of conflict are rising, while benefits from the relationship for American and Chinese citizens are receding. ......... a degree of strategic maturity that has been in short supply in recent years ......... The current downward trajectory of the relationship, if not arrested, will continue to generate sharp incidents of growing intensity. Expecting that U.S. and Chinese leaders would manage all such future incidents wisely and calmly requires the triumph of hope over reason. ........ What is needed now is clear-eyed, evidence-based, interest-driven thinking about how the world’s two most powerful countries can compete without resort to conflict, both now and in the future.

China as Peacemaker in the Ukraine War? The U.S. and Europe Are Skeptical Chinese officials say Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to Moscow is a peace mission. But U.S. and European officials say he aims to bolster Vladimir V. Putin....... And even a call by Mr. Xi for a cease-fire would amount to an effort to strengthen Mr. Putin’s battlefield position, they say, by leaving Russia in control of more territory than when the invasion began. ...... A cease-fire now would be “effectively the ratification of Russian conquest,” John Kirby, a White House spokesman, said on Friday. “It would in effect recognize Russia’s gains and its attempt to conquer its neighbor’s territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory.” ......... for Chinese officials to come out of the meeting claiming “we’re the ones calling for an end to the fighting and nobody else is.” ....... In an article published in a Russian newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Xi wrote that China had pursued “efforts to promote reconciliation and peace negotiations.” ......... Skepticism of one of Mr. Xi’s stated goals pervades thinking in Washington and some European capitals. American intelligence agencies have concluded that relations between China and Russia have deepened during the war, even as Russia has become isolated from many other nations. ........ The two countries continue to do joint military exercises, and Beijing has joined Moscow in regularly denouncing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. China remains one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil, which has helped Moscow finance its invasion. ......... Chinese officials have at no point condemned the invasion. ........... “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-around containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development.” ....... But China remains firmly anchored in the global economy, and Mr. Xi and his aides want to avoid being seen as malign actors on the world stage, especially in the eyes of Europe, a major trade partner. ....... Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin have a strong personal affinity and, as of this week’s state visit, have met 40 times since Mr. Xi became China’s leader in 2012. Mr. Putin called Mr. Xi a “dear old friend” in an article published in a Chinese newspaper on Sunday, saying the two enjoyed the “warmest relationship.” ......... China’s recent mediation of an initial diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran had boosted notions of China as a peacemaker. ....... China is not a close partner of either country and has a very specific economic interest in preventing the two from escalating their hostilities — it buys large amounts of oil from both. .......... Mr. Xi has not talked to Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, since the war began, much less asked for his perspective on peace talks. ........... Mr. Zelensky has said he would enter peace talks only if Mr. Putin withdrew his troops from Ukrainian territory. That includes the Crimean Peninsula, which the Russian military seized in 2014, and the Donbas region, where that same year Russian troops stoked a pro-Russia separatist insurgency. ........... Qin Gang, the foreign minister of China, spoke by phone with Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, and stressed that the warring sides should “resume peace talks” and “return to the track of political settlement” ......... Analysts in Washington concur. “I don’t think China can serve as a fulcrum on which any Ukraine peace process could move,” said Ryan Hass, a former U.S. diplomat to China and White House official who is a scholar at the Brookings Institution. ......... Mr. Hass added that China would have a role as part of a signing or guaranteeing group for any eventual peace deal and would be critical to Ukraine’s reconstruction. “I believe Zelensky understands this, which is why he has been willing to exercise so much patience with China and with Xi personally,” he said........... they saw it as a further sign of China’s friendship if not alliance with Russia, as well as an effort by China to present itself as a mediator in the war. ....... He suggested that Washington wanted the war to continue to further weaken Russia. “Some forces might not want to see peace talks materialize,” he said. “They don’t care about the life and death of Ukrainians or the harms on Europe. They might have strategic goals larger than Ukraine itself. This warfare must not continue.” ........ many European officials, like their Ukrainian and American counterparts, are convinced that early talks on a peace settlement will be at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty. ......... “It is not a peace plan, but principles that they shared” .

Japan’s Prime Minister Becomes Latest G7 Leader to Visit Ukraine Fumio Kishida, who has been seeking a more active role for his country in international affairs, made an unannounced trip to meet with Ukraine’s president. ......... Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has galvanized Japan’s foreign and military policy, stoking concerns about the costs of geopolitical instability. Policymakers and the public alike worry that the country would be unprepared to handle a crisis in its own backyard, whether North Korean aggression or an attempt by China to take the self-ruled island of Taiwan. ....... Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said the prime minister’s show of solidarity with Mr. Zelensky was in contrast to the partnership between Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin, calling the alignment between the Chinese and Russian leaders “nefarious.” ........ “Prime Minister Kishida stands with freedom, and Xi stands with a war criminal,” the ambassador wrote. ....... A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry responded to news of the visit by saying Japan should “help de-escalate the situation instead of the opposite.” ....... The war has raised concerns about Japan’s reliance on other countries for food and energy, most of which it imports. Prices for commodities such as natural gas jumped after the invasion, putting cost pressures on Japan’s production of electricity. In response, the country has pushed for closer relationships with its allies and broken a decades-long deadlock in military spending as it plans to double its budget over the next five years. ....... Mr. Kishida embarked for Ukraine from India, where he had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on issues including protecting freedom of navigation in the Pacific. ........ In a speech on Monday at the Indian Council of World Affairs, a research institute in New Delhi, Mr. Kishida said that Russia’s war had driven a “paradigm shift” in global affairs. ..... “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine oblige us to face the most fundamental challenge: defending peace,” he said, according to prepared remarks. .

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Xi In Moscow

Call me anytime: Zelenskyy plays the long game with Xi Jinping Ukraine is conspicuously diplomatic in its dealings with Vladimir Putin’s top ally.
What Zelenskyy should know before he talks with Xi
Russia and China want to disrupt the world order, NSC spokesperson says “They’d like to rewrite the rules of the game globally,” John Kirby said.
Xi Jinping visits Moscow to meet Putin (March 20)
Blinken slams Xi for providing ‘diplomatic cover’ to Putin during Moscow visit
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow, discuss Chinese peace plan for Ukraine Washington and its allies are skeptical that Xi can be an honest broker; US urges China and Russia to ‘respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’ ....... The two leaders meet for 4.5 hours, and Russian media reports that Putin ‘went out into the street’ to see Xi off as they parted, a rare move for him .
Xi Jinping says China ready to ‘stand guard over world order’ on Moscow visit Chinese leader expected to position himself as peacemaker but US condemns Xi for providing ‘diplomatic cover’ for atrocities in Ukraine .
Putin rips West as trying to stifle Russia, China's 'development,’ while Xi arrives in Moscow
Putin and Xi prepare for second day of talks in Moscow as Japanese PM heads to Ukraine Chinese and Russian leaders to discuss Ukraine in formal talks after friendly dinner, while Fumio Kishida meets Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv .
China bills itself as a Ukraine peacemaker but US says Xi’s talks with Putin provide ‘diplomatic cover’ for war
Xi: China's proposal on Ukraine reflects unity of global views Xi has been seeking to present China as a global peacemaker and project it as a responsible great power.

20 years on, George W. Bush’s promise of democracy in Iraq and Middle East falls short the main arguments for the invasion: that there were weapons of mass destruction. ....... “it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases deliberately misleading.” ........ “The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution,” Bush said in November 2003. He also said that the U.S. would be pursuing a “forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.” ........ In 2003, there was indeed, as Bush noted, a “freedom deficit” in the Middle East, where repressive authoritarian regimes dominated the region. Yet, in spite of tremendous upheaval in the Middle East over the past two decades, many authoritarian regimes remain deeply entrenched. ......... The non-profit group Freedom House evaluates countries in terms of democratic institutions and whether they have free and fair elections, as well as people’s civil rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and a free press. Freedom House rates each country and its level of democracy on a scale from 2 to 14, from “mostly free” to “least free.” ............ In 2003, the average Freedom House score for an Arab League member was 11.45 – far more authoritarian than the global average of 6.75 at the time. ......... the Freedom House report in 2003 classified a little over 46% of all countries as “free,” but no country in the Arab League met that threshold. ......... The fall of Hussein’s regime in April 2003 produced a nominally more democratic Iraq. But after fighting a series of sectarian insurgencies in Iraq over an eight-year period, the U.S. ultimately left behind a weak and deeply divided government. .......... Rivalry between Iraq’s three main groups – the Sunni and Shiite Muslims as well as the Kurds, the largest ethnic minority in the country – paralyzed early attempts at political reorganization. ........

in 2023, Freedom House continues to score Iraq as “Not Free” in its measure of democracy.

........ In 2014, widespread protest movements associated with the Arab Spring toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. In other countries, such as Morocco and Jordan, monarchs were able to offer concessions to people and remain in control by delaying public spending cuts, for example, and replacing government ministers. ........ In Egypt, the military has reasserted itself and the country has slid steadily back to authoritarianism. In Yemen, the political vaccum created by the protests marked the start of a devastating civil war. ........ The average Freedom House democracy score for members of the Arab League is today 11.45 — the same as it was on the eve of the Iraq invasion. ........... It is hard to know if a different approach might have yielded better results. ...... the vision of an Iraq as an inspiration for a democratic transformation of the Middle East has not come to pass.

The collapse of major US banks leads to bills calling for more regulation bipartisan-backed deregulation in 2018 led to the banks’ collapse ......... lax government policy that included overspending – which Barr says, fueled inflation, as well as long-term low interest rates – not deregulation, was behind the banks’ failures. ........ banks with US$50 billion in assets be subject to strict standards ....... But the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act of 2018 loosened the standards, raising the asset threshold to $250 billion, meaning fewer banks were under strict controls. ........ During 2022, Silvergate’s deposit base grew dramatically, almost doubling its assets to $210 billion. But the bank did not have either the administrative capacity or market demand to lend out all of the money, as banks normally do. So, it invested the excess deposits in Treasury bonds and mortgage investment products. ......... Industry leaders, among them Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, lobbied Congress in 2015 to roll back some of the Dodd-Frank Act provisions. ........ These standards were arguably designed to specifically prevent and address the type of circumstances that triggered these recent bank failures: multiple failures and contagion in the financial system, market panic, deposit runs and liquidity crisis. .

Sunday, March 19, 2023

19: Russia

Is the United States Creating a ‘Legion of Doom’? The emerging China-Russia-Iran axis may force the United States to choose between some unappealing options.
Paul Krugman: Three and a half myths about bank bailouts The fallout from banking problems has made a murky economic situation even murkier.

The forgotten maths genius who laid the foundations for Isaac Newton A new play explores the short life of Jeremiah Horrocks, whose astonishing discoveries ‘changed the way we see the universe’

The Lessons of the Great Depression Are Being Ignored FDR would have hated the fix to today’s banking crisis.
Opinion: ICC arrest warrant for Putin is a stunning statement

How AI could upend the world even more than electricity or the internet AGI -- defined as artificial intelligence with human cognitive abilities, as opposed to more narrow artificial intelligence, such as the headline-grabbing ChatGPT -- could free people from menial tasks and usher in a new era of creativity....... OpenAI, the company behind the generative software that churns out essays, poems and computing code on command, this week released an even more powerful version of the tech that operates it -- GPT-4. ....... Already, AI-infused digital assistants from Microsoft and Google can summarize meetings, draft emails, create websites, craft ad campaigns and more -- giving us a glimpse of what AGI will be capable of in the future. ...... With artificial intelligence Spataro wants to "rediscover the soul of work" ..... he used GPT-4 for a coding project, which a "very good" developer had told him would cost 5,000 pounds ($6,000) and take two weeks. ..... "GPT-4 delivered the same in 3 hours, for $0.11"

Devs can talk to GPT and describe the app they want to create. Copilot can then build it in seconds and suggest tips to improve it. ...... With Power Platform Copilot, all devs need to do is describe the app using simple natural language. Once that is done, Power Apps will build the app. By this, we mean that it will not only write code for the UI but also create the data table and business logic. ........ For instance, if a user tells Power Apps to “create a worker onboarding app, get new worker data and share training content and learning modules,” Copilot can create the app in one breach. ........ With Power Automate Copilot, processes can be created using natural language no matter what complexity the requirements have. Also, Copilot can optimize and update the process in a dialogue-based manner. ........ users can also use the GPT model to generate text content on the Power Automate Desktop. The new Azure OpenAI service in AI Builder can now be used in Power Automate Desktop.

His work proved, for the first time, that Earth is not at the centre of the universe, but revolves around the sun, refuting contemporary religious beliefs and laying the foundations for Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking work on gravity. ....... “Nobody understood the significance of Horrocks’s work until Newton picked it up” ...... In 1687, Newton acknowledged the importance of Horrocks’s observations in his Principia: “Newton wouldn’t have been able to complete his work on gravity, if Horrocks hadn’t done these observations at the time he did,” said Sear. “Newton relied on this earlier work.” ......... “At the age of 14 or 15 – no one’s quite sure – he walked to Cambridge from Lancashire, to study the stars.” ....... The son of a watchmaker, who was largely self-taught, Horrocks worked as a sizar while studying at Cambridge, serving his fellow students and even emptying their bedpans to pay his way. “He begged and borrowed books from the various Cambridge colleges, and left without a degree, probably because he’d run out of things to read,” said Sear. “We would be looking at him as some kind of child phenomenon today. At his age, understanding the maths he did, making these amazing observations on rudimentary telescopes and then drawing conclusions that overturned established religious and scientific beliefs about the nature of the universe – he was a genius and 400 years ahead of his time.” ....... “he committed the sin of dying young”. ...... and so was not publicly lauded for his discoveries the way Kepler and Galileo were. .

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the ICC’s move “outrageous and unacceptable,” dismissing the warrants as “null and void” for Russia. ........ When the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Friday that it had issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another key Russian official for charges related to an alleged scheme to forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, it also effectively placed Putin’s name on a short list alongside some of the most brutal leaders the world has seen since the end of World War II. With that, it branded him before the entire world — including the Russian people — as an international pariah, potentially guilty of historically egregious crimes......... Only three sitting heads of state have faced ICC charges while in office. The other two were the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir, both accused of horrifying crimes against their own people. ....... Putin is now an accused — not convicted — war criminal. ....... By most accounts, he enjoys the support of most Russians. Perhaps this will give some of them reason to reconsider. But one day, the Russian people will look beyond the propaganda they’ve been fed, and they will understand the horror of what’s been perpetrated in their name. ........ There’s almost no chance that Putin will face an ICC tribunal in The Hague anytime soon. As Peskov reiterated in his statement, Russia does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, and as long as Putin is president, he’s likely to remain free. But, unless he faces the court and then somehow manages to clear his name — an outcome that is doubly unlikely — he will forever bear the branding of an accused war criminal. ......... Putin, along with Maria Lvova-Belova, his “Commissioner for Children’s Rights,” are now formally accused of violating the laws of war by forcibly removing Ukrainian children and deporting them to Russia. In the ICC’s words, they are “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine.” The arrest warrant states that there are “reasonable grounds to believe Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes.” ........ Russia has allegedly been removing children from Ukraine and placing them in relocation camps inside Russia and in Russian homes. Lvova-Belova has been instrumental in carrying out the policy, which is not being conducted in secret. In fact, she publicly thanked Putin for making it possible for her, personally, to adopt a child from Donbas, a Russian-occupied area of Ukraine. ........ The Russian government claims it’s all practically a humanitarian move, aimed at saving Ukrainian children in a war zone. The ICC says it’s a violation of the Geneva Conventions. ICC prosecutors, Ukrainian authorities and groups focusing on locating the children say it’s part of Putin’s concerted effort to erase Ukraine’s nationhood. US and European officials say the children spend time in a network of dozens of camps where they undergo political reeducation, an effort to turn them into Russian citizens. ...... Ukrainian parents are desperately trying to get their children back. ....... These are just the first two arrest warrants over only one aspect of Russia’s assault on Ukraine ....... Putin’s ability to travel is now severely restricted, as more than 120 signatory countries to the Rome Statute creating the ICC are now required to arrest him if he sets foot in their territory. ....... a small rogue’s gallery of 20th century war-mongers, monsters to many of their people and their neighbors, went from feeling perfectly secure in their palaces to facing a tribunal in The Hague after they lost power at home. .

Friday, March 17, 2023

17: Russia

RETIRED U.S. GENERALS, ADMIRALS TAKE TOP JOBS WITH SAUDI CROWN PRINCE Hundreds of veterans have taken lucrative foreign jobs that U.S. officials approved — but fought to keep secret ....... More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken lucrative jobs since 2015 working for foreign governments, mostly in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression In Saudi Arabia, for example, 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals have worked as paid consultants for the Defense Ministry since 2016. The ministry is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler ........ Saudi Arabia’s paid advisers have included retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a national security adviser to President Barack Obama, and retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Obama and President George W. Bush ....... Most of the retired U.S. personnel have worked as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical, though largely invisible, role in upgrading their militaries. ........ With shared intelligence, aerial refueling and other support from the U.S. government and contractors, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have intervened in Yemen’s civil war to disastrous effect, triggering a global humanitarian crisis and killing thousands of civilians Foreign governments have long advanced their interests in Washington by paying Americans as lobbyists, lawyers, political consultants, think tank analysts and public relations advisers. But the hiring of retired U.S. military personnel for their expertise and political clout has accelerated over the past decade as oil-rich gulf monarchies have splurged on defense spending and strengthened their security partnerships with the Pentagon........ foreign governments pay handsomely for U.S. military talent, with salary and benefit packages reaching six and, sometimes, seven figures — far more than what most American service members earn while on active duty. At the top of the scale, active four-star generals earn $203,698 a year in basic pay........ In comparison, the government of Australia has given consulting deals worth more than $10 million to several former senior U.S. Navy officials.......... A consulting firm owned by six retired Pentagon officials and military officers negotiated a $23.6 million contract with Qatar ........ In Azerbaijan, a retired U.S. Air Force general was offered a consulting gig at a rate of $5,000 a day........ Retired generals and admirals command the most money, but former enlisted personnel can also collect hefty foreign paychecks on top of their U.S. military pensions ........ Saudi Arabia hired a former Navy SEAL to work as a special operations adviser for $258,000 a year. The UAE gave annual compensation packages worth more than $200,000 to helicopter pilots and $120,000 to aircraft mechanics. In Indonesia, a government-owned mining firm employed a retired U.S. Marine master sergeant as a transportation consultant at a rate of $500 a day, plus living expenses. ........ Many U.S. generals and admirals have profited from connections built during wartime by later working for Middle Eastern countries where they were once stationed. Records show that a few American officers even negotiated jobs with foreign governments while they were still on active duty......... Under federal law, retired U.S. military personnel — generally defined as those who served at least 20 years in uniform and are entitled to a pension — are restricted from receiving anything of value from foreign governments that could compromise their sworn allegiance to the United States........ The law applies to military retirees because they can be recalled to active duty at any time. In 1977, Congress delegated the authority to approve veterans’ foreign work to the Pentagon and State Department........ But The Post investigation found that approval is almost automatic. Of the more than 500 requests submitted since 2015, about 95 percent were granted........ scores of retirees on LinkedIn who say they have taken military contracting jobs in the Persian Gulf, but for whom there is no record of federal approval........ There is no criminal penalty for violating the law. Enforcement is almost nonexistent. The Defense Department can withhold retirement pay from those who ignore the rules. But the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which administers military payrolls, has docked the pensions of “fewer than five” people ......... Flynn collected $449,807 from Russian and Turkish interests in 2015, one year after he retired from the Army, but failed to clear his work with U.S. officials ........ Flynn’s unauthorized work for foreign governments came to light after he was photographed sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a 2015 gala in Moscow celebrating the 10th anniversary of Russia Today, or RT, a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. RT paid Flynn $38,557 to travel to Moscow and speak at the event.......... Flynn’s work for Russia helped prompt Congress to pass legislation in 2019 and 2020 requiring the Pentagon to submit annual reports to lawmakers about retired generals and admirals who work for foreign powers. Since then, the Pentagon has complied, but its reports include only a few lines of information and do not name the generals and admirals......... nations that the U.S. government categorizes as “foreign adversaries,” such as China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba or Venezuela........ Almost two-thirds of the jobs taken by U.S. veterans have been in the Middle East and North Africa, where governments pay top dollar for American military expertise honed by two decades of war and counterterrorism operations in the Arab world.......... 25 retirees from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps were granted permission to take jobs in Saudi Arabia. Most were high-ranking officers who received job offers to serve as consultants to the Saudi Defense Ministry. Since 2015, the ministry has been ruled by Prince Mohammed, whose leadership has upended the status quo in the Middle East....... Two months after Mohammed became defense minister at age 29, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of regional forces — with intelligence, refueling and logistical support from the United States — that intervened militarily in Yemen’s civil war. The move further destabilized the kingdom’s much poorer neighbor, and an estimated 375,000 people have died in the fighting or of hunger.......... A prominent beneficiary of Mohammed’s reign has been 78-year-old James L. Jones, the retired general who served as Obama’s national security adviser and had been commandant of the Marine Corps. Jones owns two Virginia-based consulting firms — Ironhand Security LLC and Jones Group International LLC — that have held contracts to advise the Saudi Defense Ministry.......... Saudi Arabia spends more on its military than any other nonnuclear power in the world. In 2021, its defense budget exceeded $50 billion — roughly the same as in Britain, a country with nuclear arms.......... To carry out the project, Jones assembled a team of about a dozen former senior Pentagon officials, including William S. Cohen, who served as secretary of defense in the Clinton administration. A spokesman for Cohen said he worked on the team for about a year......... the Saudis pay their consultants generously. Four lower-ranking retired officers working for Jones — two Marine colonels, an Army colonel and a Navy captain — earned salaries ranging from $200,000 to $300,000 to advise the Saudi Defense Ministry.......... Jones’s companies continue to advise the Saudis on how to reorganize their military command structure so that the armed forces can operate jointly instead of as separate fiefdoms, documents show. Traditionally, the primary mission of the Saudi military and security services has been to guarantee the protection and survival of the al-Saud family, with different princes controlling different branches as competing power centers......... Saudi Arabia buys more U.S. weapons than any other country in the world by far. More than 200 active-duty American troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia as trainers and advisers........ Another high-profile senior officer who has done business with Saudi Arabia is Keith Alexander, 70, who served as director of the National Security Agency as well as the first head of the U.S. Cyber Command........ In July 2018, Alexander’s consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, signed a partnership agreement with the Saudis to develop a new institution: the Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Cyber Security........ Qahtani also oversaw a network of computer hacking and surveillance operations that targeted the crown prince’s critics and enemies around the world, including Khashoggi......... Many U.S. companies ceased doing business with Saudi Arabia in the weeks after Khashoggi’s murder, including lobbyists and public relations firms that had represented the kingdom in Washington......... He said his companies now hold four Saudi contracts and employ 53 Americans in Riyadh. Of those, eight are retired generals and admirals, and 32 are lower-ranking military retirees. “Libya is a nut case,” he said. “Their government is ineffective. Their military is ineffective. … Their military is basically a ragtag group of militias.” ......... One of the few cases denied by the State Department concerned a retired Navy commander who landed a $291,000-a-year job with Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), a state-owned arms supplier, as its director for weapons systems.......... Carter’s annual compensation was even more lucrative: $514,200 in salary and living expenses, plus a yearly bonus worth up to $330,000......... SAMI announced his hiring on Sept. 4, 2019, almost a full year before he received tentative approval from the Navy......... Under federal law, the Defense Department can force retirees to pay back any foreign money they receive before their applications are approved. But there is no evidence the armed forces have ever imposed penalties in such cases. ......... many military retirees take foreign jobs or gifts without notifying the U.S. government at all......... Other generals have moved to Saudi Arabia for employment after they were forced to retire from the U.S. military for misconduct........ Adultery is a punishable offense under military law, and Army officials said Haight’s sexual escapades put him at risk of blackmail......... The distinction between state-controlled firms and independent ones is often blurry in nondemocratic countries, especially absolute monarchies such as Saudi Arabia, where the royal family dominates commerce and there is little transparency in the business sector.

Work Advice: Dealing with a toxic ‘girlboss’ might require moving on Beyond gender and trendy buzzwords, a bad boss is a bad boss is a bad boss

General disorder: Another four-star tries to cash in Old generals don’t fade away, they move in the bright light of day from the Pentagon into lucrative contracts with defense companies, think tanks and foreign governments........ The revolving door between military/defense industry/wonkism/lobbyist is usually not much of a problem for the D.C. crowd as long as the paperwork is filed before the stars are traded for cufflinks.

JOHN ALLEN, the retired Marine Corps four-star and president of the Brookings Institution think tank Allen, along with RICHARD OLSON, former U.S. ambassador to the UAE and Pakistan, and IMAAD ZUBERI, a business executive hatched a plan to work for the Qatari government to lobby the Trump administration to back Qatar, or at least end the embargoes......... a year before Allen was named president of the Brookings Institution in 2017, an organization to which Qatar donated $14.8 million in 2013, a big check that again shines a bright light on where some think tanks receive their funding......... Former Defense Secretary and Centcom commander JAMES MATTIS worked as a military adviser for the United Arab Emirates in 2015 prior to becoming former President DONALD TRUMP’s first of four SecDefs. Mattis, who retired as a four-star Marine general in 2013 ........ advising foreign governments is usually a lucrative business for retired military officers, either before or during their almost inevitable defense industry or think tank sinecures........ No list is complete, of course, without mentioning retired three-star Army Gen. MIKE FLYNN, who before he led the charge for Q-inspired conspiracy theories, was Trump’s national security adviser and a decorated, if controversial, three-star general. While working on the Trump campaign, Flynn was being paid by the Turkish government. Flynn didn’t register his foreign work that took place throughout the 2016 presidential campaign with the U.S. government until after Trump fired him in February 2017.

‘Hunting rifles’ — really? China ships assault weapons and body armor to Russia Customs data obtained by POLITICO reveals direct shipments of Chinese assault rifles, as well as drone shipments and body armor routed via Turkey and the UAE........  China is considering sending weapons to Russia’s military, a move that could alter the nature of the fighting on the ground in Ukraine, tipping it in Russia’s favor....... “China did not create the crisis. It is not a party to the crisis, and has not provided weapons to either side of the conflict,” said embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu......... Although Western sanctions have hampered Moscow’s ability to import everything from microchips to tear gas, Russia’s still able to buy supplies that support its war effort from “friendly” countries that aren’t following the West’s new rules, like China or the Gulf countries........ In cases where the Kremlin craves specific technology only produced in say the U.S., EU or Japan, there are wily ways for Moscow to evade sanctions, which include buying equipment from middlemen located in countries with cordial trade relations with both the West and Russia......... Russia managed to import almost 80 tons of body armor worth around $10 million in December last year ...... China recently presented a 12-point peace proposal for the war in Ukraine, though it was criticized by western leaders for its ambiguity and for its lack of details about the need for the withdrawal of Russian troops.

U.S. dismisses China’s Ukraine peace proposal as an attempt to distract The proposal itself falls short of what Beijing had promised. ....... “There are 12 points in the Chinese plan. If they were serious about the first one, sovereignty, then this war could end tomorrow," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. ........ China’s 12-point “Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” published Thursday, asserts vague support for “sovereignty,” “ceasing hostilities” and “resuming peace talks,” without specific proposals on achieving those goals. ....... it is talking up Russia’s false narrative about the war ....... it mostly restates Beijing’s existing positions on the war by linking it to the Kremlin’s “legitimate security concerns.” ....... Beijing’s peace proposal “doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine ....... The EU would consider China’s proposals “against the backdrop that China has taken sides,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Beijing helped earn that distrust by abstaining from a United Nations’ resolution on Thursday demanding that Russia immediately withdraw from Ukraine. .......... it calls for Kyiv and Moscow to “exercise restraint” and says it supports “promoting talks for peace.” The Chinese government also distances itself from leading such efforts by limiting its participation to a hands-off “constructive role.” ...... China can now market the plan in the global south as proof of Beijing’s dedication to peace and tell the U.S. and its allies “It’s your job to convince the Ukrainians [to stop fighting] — our mission here is accomplished” ........ The document’s publication means “China gets a PR victory upfront without doing anything” .

China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected. ........ Ceasing hostilities. Conflict and war benefit no one. All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire.  .......... Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. ........ help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation. ........ Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances. ........... Facilitating grain exports. All parties need to implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN fully and effectively in a balanced manner, and support the UN in playing an important role in this regard. The cooperation initiative on global food security proposed by China provides a feasible solution to the global food crisis. ........ Stopping unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the issue; they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the UN Security Council. Relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” against other countries, so as to do their share in deescalating the Ukraine crisis and create conditions for developing countries to grow their economies and better the lives of their people. .......... All parties should earnestly maintain the existing world economic system and oppose using the world economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to mitigate the spillovers of the crisis and prevent it from disrupting international cooperation in energy, finance, food trade and transportation and undermining the global economic recovery. ....... The international community needs to take measures to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict zones. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this endeavor.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

14: Russia

Richard Holbrooke, the Last Great Freewheeling Diplomat . .

Late Night Can’t Believe Tucker Carlson’s Texts About Trump “Oh, my God, it turns out the Trump hatred was coming from inside the house!” Seth Meyers said. ...... In one text, Carlson wrote of Trump, “I hate him passionately.” ........ “Wait, wait, are you telling me Tucker Carlson is secretly sane? I would feel so betrayed if I was a Fox viewer. This is like if you joined a cult, sold all your belongings, shaved your head, moved to the desert, and then it turns out the cult leader is just, like, a Methodist.” — SETH MEYERS ........ “That’s right, Tucker Carlson said he couldn’t wait to ignore Trump and that he hated Trump passionately. That’s as damning as the time I got caught texting Trump, ‘Real talk, I also think windmills kill birds.’” — SETH MEYERS ....... “I wouldn’t worry just yet. As of now, Biden thinks TikTok is the clock on ‘60 Minutes.’” — JIMMY FALLON ........... “Yeah, officials think China is using TikTok to spy on us, and China was like, ‘Yeah, well, we had a backup idea, but you shot it down.’” — JIMMY FALLON .

Elizabeth Warren: Silicon Valley Bank Is Gone. We Know Who Is Responsible. These recent bank failures are the direct result of leaders in Washington weakening the financial rules. ....... Greg Becker, the chief executive of Silicon Valley Bank, was one of the ‌many high-powered executives who lobbied Congress to weaken the law. In 2018, the big banks won. With support from both parties, President Donald Trump signed a law to roll back critical parts of Dodd-Frank. Regulators, including the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, then made a bad situation worse, ‌‌letting financial institutions load up on risk. ........ got relief from stringent requirements, basing their claim on the laughable assertion that banks like them weren’t actually “big” ‌and therefore didn’t need strong oversight. ‌ ........ on Friday, S.V.B. executives were busy paying out congratulatory bonuses hours before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation‌‌ rushed in to take over their failing institution — leaving countless businesses and non‌profits with accounts at the bank alarmed that they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills and employees. .............. This business model was great for S.V.B.’s short-term profits, which shot up by nearly 40 ‌percent over the last three years‌ — but now we know its cost. ......... Signature had touted its F.D.I.C. insurance as it whipped up a customer base tilted toward risky cryptocurrency firms. ........ On Sunday night, regulators announced they would ensure that all deposits at S.V.B. and Signature would be repaid 100 cents on the dollar. Not just small businesses and nonprofits, but also billion-dollar companies, crypto investors and the very venture capital firms that triggered the bank run on S.V.B. in the first place — all in the name of preventing further contagion. ........... it’s no wonder the American people are skeptical of a system that holds millions of struggling student loan borrowers in limbo but steps in overnight to ensure that billion-dollar crypto firms won’t lose a dime in deposits. ......... Never again should large companies with billions in unsecured deposits expect, or receive, free support from the government. ........ S.V.B. and Signature shareholders will be wiped out, but their executives must also be held accountable. Mr. Becker of S.V.B. took home $9.9 million in compensation last year, including a $1.5 million bonus for boosting bank profitability — and its riskiness. Joseph DePaolo of Signature got $8.6 million. We should claw all of that back, along with bonuses for other executives at these banks. .

After Bank Debacle, Silicon Valley Reckons With Its Image Even as start-ups and investors began recovering their money from Silicon Valley Bank, the episode exposed the tech industry’s vulnerabilities. ........ On Twitter, several tech investors pointed fingers of blame for the situation at almost everyone but themselves, and then were surprised that so few outside the industry were sympathetic to their plight. ........ Some of the “loudest voices of the investment community” were “screaming about the end times,” positioning themselves as the victims of the bank’s failure, rather than the small businesses who couldn’t make payroll .........

some of the loudest voices were also those who had been repeatedly on the record against any government funded safety nets in other contexts

.......... Over the weekend, Garry Tan, the president of the start-up incubator Y Combinator, sent a message to hundreds of founders and entrepreneurs telling them to begin posting “tweetstorms” to humanize the impact that Silicon Valley Bank’s failure was having on them........... He later posted an online petition to the government asking them “to save innovation in the American economy,” which was signed by more than 5,000 chief executives representing nearly half a million employees. ........... the bank provided banking services to nearly half of all venture-backed technology and life-science companies in the United States and was also a bank to more than 2,500 venture capital firms. ......... “People are never going to unremember what happened on Friday.” ......... It offered low-interest loans to investors and start-up founders who banked with it, so they were able to secure such loans — which traditional banks declined — for multimillion dollar homes ........... said Silicon Valley Bank gave him a $4 million loan for his San Francisco home with an interest rate of 2.2 percent, while other banks were offering rates of 3 percent and higher. ........ the white-knuckle ride ended only on Monday when they and their companies got access to their bank deposits that had been frozen for more than 72 hours.

Jimmy Fallon Recaps Trump’s ‘Off the Rails’ CPAC Speech Fallon said Donald Trump “made some pretty intense promises” in his headlining speech on Saturday...... “In 2016, I declared, ‘I am your voice,’” Trump said. “Today I add, I am your warrior, I am your justice, and, for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution. I am your retribution.’” ......... “He’s either running for president or auditioning to be the next John Wick.” — JIMMY FALLON ........ “But let’s be real, the funniest comedy special last weekend was the CPAC, or as I like to call it, crazy white people.” — MARLON WAYANS, guest hosting “The Daily Show” ........ “If you don’t know about it, it’s an annual event where all the Karens and their husbands come together, and they complain about the rest of us. The Karens and the Darrens.” — MARLON WAYANS ....... “And some of that [expletive] make no sense at all. Like, Nikki Haley said, ‘wokeness is more dangerous than a pandemic.’ I never had to miss two weeks of work because of wokeness.” — MARLON WAYANS ........ “Yes, wokeness is such a dangerous virus that it apparently killed two-thirds of her audience. It’s got to be stopped.” — STEPHEN COLBERT .

As Economy Falters, China’s New Premier Tries to Boost Business Confidence Li Qiang, the country’s No. 2 leader, sought to reassure entrepreneurs who have been wary of making new investments. ....... private-sector companies would be treated equally with state-owned ones ...... many local governments have forced private companies to make large “donations” or pay arbitrarily imposed fines to help cover the costs of social programs. ...... At his first news conference as premier on Monday, Mr. Li delivered the most forceful statement by a Chinese leader in years of the need to preserve the vitality of the private sector. He promised a commercial environment “in which businesses of all forms of ownership will be treated equally, protecting the property rights and interests of entrepreneurs according to the law, encouraging fair competition between business entities of all types.” ........ “There is the massive scale of its market, its comprehensive array of industries, abundant human resources and a robust base for development — even more important, there are our clear institutional advantages,” he said, apparently referring to Communist Party rule. ............

Mr. Li’s remarks triggered a sharp jump on Monday morning in share prices in Hong Kong

........ The difference in tone and substance between the two men’s comments suggested that Mr. Xi would leave the details of economic policy to the premier, while Mr. Xi would play the role of the paternalistic Communist Party leader who provides security for the people but is not directly responsible for the month-to-month vicissitudes of the economy. ......... strong pressure on businesses to cooperate with the military under a “civil-military fusion” policy ........ “Opening up to the outside is our fundamental national policy, and no matter how the international situation changes, we will be unwavering in advancing it” ......... “This raft of appointments seems to at least partially buck the narrative that demonstrated fealty to Xi Jinping will trump technocratic competence in assigning top-level government positions,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist. ........ factory activity accelerated strongly in February. In many Chinese cities, the subways, airports and hotels are busy again. ........... youth unemployment remains high, and the housing market is in a slump. China’s factories, the engine of its trade with the world, are facing weakening demand from the United States and Europe.